If it’s possible for a performer to “return to their roots” after only 4 years at MICF then that is what Tom Walker has done. The slightly intimidating, aggressive prop based hilarity of the last couple of years has been toned down and this show is a more sedate, calm and accessible show closer in spirit to his excellent debut clown show Beep Boop 3 years ago. That isn’t to say that Tom Walker’s current show is one to take your grandmother to, but if you did she wouldn’t be quite as terrified as if she’d watched 2017’s Barry nominated Bee Boo.
This is ostensibly a mime show, loosely structured aside from one routine that develops over the course of three or four scenes spread throughout the show. Tom describes mime as the dirtiest 4 letter word in comedy, and if there are still people put off by mime then please don’t be, Tom is a master of physical comedy and he does breaks the silence in between sketches to engage with the audience in a deeply playful and endearing way. Indeed at least one of the sketches is fully vocalised, so those terrified of sitting quietly for an hour needn’t panic, for a mime show this is very loud.
For those scared of the front row, there is a little audience participation, but it isn’t the terrifying engagement of prior years and it exceptionally friendly and fun. It is always amazing to see someone from the audience try and mime along with a pro.
The show is incredibly accomplished and well delivered, it delivers the right balance of laughs, gross-out and heart warming moments while avoiding the genuinely uncomfortable. If you’ve seen Tom Walker’s shows in the last two years expect a calmer, more polished performance this time round. If you’ve never seen Tom perform then do yourself a favour and go and check it out.
Tom Walker – Very Very is on at ACMI until April 21st
Here Comes Melbourne International Comedy Festival 2019! There are more shows than EVER before and we Squirrels are here to help.
We have a list of all the shows we’ve previously reviewed and also a few that we’re excited about or keen to recommend.
The Aspie Hour had a short run at 2018 The Melbourne Writers Festival. It was a fabulous musical comedy in two parts by two brilliantly talented performers who apparently are both on a spectrum. It’s top notch comedy cabaret for those who love Broadway with laughs.
The Fringe Wives Club has welcomed new members and has grown from 3 to 5 performers. Last year we all rushed out to see Glittery Clittery and adored the crowdpleasing feminist cabaret, but we didn’t manage a review, sorry but the simple review is: We all LOVED it. This year we’ll be rushing to see their new show Glittergrass and make sure we review it.
Tom Ballard is being very busy after having his ABC show Tonightly cancelled. He’s jumped into the festival with gusto. As well as his own show, Enough, which is having a full season run, Tom will be hosting one of the political Tuesday nights at the Festival Club and most intriguingly he’s written a satirical political play called KWANDA. It’s about a Monday night political panel show but it’s not about QandA at all. No. Of course not.
Demi Lardner and Tom Walker both have solo shows again this year, but they have also teamed up to perform We Mustn’t and it’s bound to be weird, wonderful and hilarious.
Don’t forget to check out the alternate guide to the Festival: The Safety House Guide.
Says creator and stand up comedian Lisa-Skye:
“The Safety House Guide is a free magazine featuring nearly 100 of the best acts of the fest. Safe, but never tame, it’s not about censorship, it’s about empowering audiences to make the right decisions about the shows for them. It gives more info about stuff like content, access and the level of audience participation. It also has fun stuff like letters from comedians to their potential audience, info on workshops and quizzes. Grab your free copy around town, or at the launch!”
Sam Simmons is a late entry to MICF with his new show 26 Things You’ve Been Doing Wrong with Sam Simmons suddenly be added to the Festival program.
On the down side some performers have already cancelled….But NOT……Tom Cashman XYZ, we read that he had but he has NOT cancelled. Go see him!
Shows that have been Cancelled:
Ronny Chieng has had to bow out due to being cast in a sitcom in pilot season in the US. We wish him all the success, but worry he may be too successful to perform here again… He has rescheduled his Australian shows for July.
Benny Darsow Ad Lib
Charlie Pickering Us & Them
The Elvis Dead by Rob Kemp,
Let’s Get Wild
One Man Breaking Bad by Miles Allen
Thomas McMahon and Nick Quon Total Business Solution
Blanc (That weird fashion circussy thing at Chadstone)
And NOW, Finally…..
Previously Reviewed shows – and links to our reviews:
It’s not long now until the world’s largest fringe arts festival begins in warmer climes and again a massive contingent of Australians and expats are headed to The Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Many have traveled the Australian festival circuit and have been whipped into shape for international audiences. Some have been previously reviewed by Squirrel but remember they will have been further polished and may have been revised and reworked.
Last year Australian, Hannah Gadsby won Best Comedy at the Fringe, she’s had to cancel her Edinburgh Fringe run this year but there’s a lot more amazing comedy talent coming up from down under. If you are travelling anywhere near Edinburgh this August, have a look at the following list of shows and consider going to see an Australian act.
Tom Walker is on something of a comedy hat-trick, winner of Best Newcomer at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival in 2016, and a nomination for the Barry in 2017 which he responded to in his own inimitable style with a twitter famous tattoo. It is fair to say Tom has quickly risen from quirky outsider act performing to small audiences at the Tuxedo Cat to becoming a consistent main-stay of the festival with extra shows in bigger venues added last year. Between his first two shows at the festival Tom showed enormous evolution, from a mime-centric show earning him the best new-comer nod to the absurdist mad clowning that earned him the Barry nomination. While this show might not win awards, it is a spectacularly creative and eccentric mix of physical comedy, mime, songs and sight gags.
Honk Honk Honk Honk Honk, feels like a continuation of last years. While the evolution is still evident, it is a little subtler than before, and subtle is not a word that would often be associated with Tom’s performance. For fans of his this is great news, he’s hit a style that works and is now tweaking and experimenting with new ideas. Notably this year is Tom’s use of technology, he spent 6 weeks building a video game for the audience to play before the show – I can’t imagine there are many other comedians who have done that. The consistent theme throughout the show is the craftmanship and creativity behind each joke – whether song or a physical prop, every element is well constructed and beautifully crafted to maximise the comedic impact.
What strikes throughout is that Tom seems to genuinely love his creation, he seems perfectly comfortable that people won’t laugh at everything he does, but that most everyone will lose themselves to fits of giggles at some point during the performance. He seems to perform for himself as much as for the audience.
It would be wrong to say Tom seamlessly blends song, clowning, mime and stand-up into a precisely calculated show, perhaps it would be more accurate to say he bounces around from idea to idea in a wonderful world of his own creation. In many ways it feels like a journey into Tom’s mind, which is evidently an incredibly fascinating and sometimes comedically dark place. I imagine that while there would be common elements and common scenes, no two performances would ever be the same.
Tom’s acknowledgment that he has had a number of walk-outs during his performances underline that this show isn’t for everyone – if you like your stand-up straight laced then this probably isn’t for you. If however you’re open to a wild ride of new experiences, incredible creativity and eccentric surprises at every corner, this is a definitely one to add to your list.
Tom Walker and Bridie Connell are two of the best-known improvisers in Australia right now, thanks to their roles on the new version of Whose Line Is It Anyway. Connell has proven her talent in the form, being a World Theatresports Finalist. Walker brings a wealth of comedic talent, winning Best Newcomer at last year’s MICF. Together, as MotherFather, they’re a fast-paced improv duo, whipping up quirky characters in outlandish scenarios.
Fans of Whose Line will find themselves surprised by MotherFather. There’s no quick shortform games here, but rather a series of scenes inspired by one word taken from the audience at the start of the show. On the night I attended, my suggestion of ‘caravan’ was taken, and as we were told at the start – if the show goes badly it’s our fault because it’s our word that caused it. Luckily for me, MotherFather’s caravan show was hilarious. What started with a sweet scene about a boy asking a girl to a dance spun out into sketches about detectives and carnivals and singing contests. A recurring scene in which Walker deadpanned a lengthy sales pitch for a Kia Sportage to Connell was an absolute highlight.
Walker and Connell gel together wonderfully as an improv team. They deftly step into each other’s characters mid-scene, as required, and are quickly on-board when one decides to switch into something new. They’re skilled enough that they’re willing to mess with each other occasionally and attempt to crack the other up. It feels like MotherFather sits somewhere between longform and shortform improv. The characters are big and bold and gag-filled, and the scenes are very quick. Walker and Connell will hit a joke and then quit it, and so there’s not as much depth as you might normally see in a longform format. It’s perfect, however, for a late-night show. MotherFather never lets the energy drop and the audience loves every second of it.
MotherFather is some of the most dynamic improv you’ll see this MICF. Walker and Connell are incredibly talented and work together brilliantly. It’s some of the silliest late-night fun you can catch this festival.
Last year’s MICF was a huge success for Tom Walker. In addition to winning the Directors’ Choice award as part of Feeble Minds, he took out Best Newcomer for his show Beep Boop. This year, he returns with the similarly named Bee Boo – an intense hour of clever gags, bizarre games and erotic mime.
Where Beep Boop carefully drew in the audience, massaging them into an acceptance of Walker’s clowning antics, Bee Boo is more aggressive in tone. This is reflected in the ‘walkouts’ tally Walker unfurls early on. Adelaide audiences were tough to win over, by the looks of it, but Melbourne fares okay so far. It’s a show where you have to get on-board quickly. When you do, you’re rewarded with an avalanche of hilarious nonsense that’s offset with just a touch of darkness. There appears to be no method to Walker’s madness. The only thread tying any of the segments together is a recurring bit where Walker writes in his diary, having a frank conversation about how he feels the show is going so far.
The best thing about Walker’s comedy is that it is constantly surprising you. He has a knack for taking the everyday and seeing the silly within it. Boring household items are brought to life in unexpected ways. It’s as though everything has been viewed through the eyes of a child, but one that is equal parts gifted and menacing. An early part of the show in which Walker performs “baby tricks” made me collapse into that kind of laughter that goes on a bit too long and you fear you’ll never recover from it.
Bee Boo isn’t a show for the faint of heart, but it’s a wonderfully hilarious hour of absolutely absurd clowning for anyone who loves their comedy weird. Walker’s act has evolved since last year, and he’s created a beautiful monster. He should win some sort of award for his commitment to sight gags alone.